Thursday, May 1, 2008

Hollywood, Lawyers, The Office and Me

A friend in Hollywood suggested, months ago, that I write about my efforts to 'get to Hollywood'. Which is interesting in and of itself, since I've been out to LA five times now. They weren't vacations, each time I went was due to the Biz, or as it's known to the rest of the world, Hollywood and the movies.

The first time was due to an agent. He told me that my screenplay 'has potential', wanted to meet with me. This was before the internet and cellphones were common. You called people long distance, sent a letter or went and met them. Doing what any normal, level-headed person would do, I quit my job and drove to the West Coast. Yes, I used capital letters, it's a nation unto itself.

You want the grimy details on that trip, it's covered in my book, "Going Dutch, Trials of a Wage Slave". Let's just say that the agent and I weren't a good match and leave it at that.

I won't bore you with the details of the other trips. A couple were for a film commission that I worked with in Ohio. The last two were for screenwriter conferences and meetings. You have to stay up to speed, even if you live in the hills of Tennessee, if you want to get your movie made.

Even here, we have Hollywood come to visit. I've attended the Nashville Screenwriters Conference and got some great advice. One of the lawyers that flew in from New York gave the definitive breakdown on the writer hierarchy. Let me give you the short list.

1) Playwrights
2) Novelists
3) Screenwriters

Playwrights have almost total control, right down to the sets and director. Novelists work with an editor, who usually has notes on the work in progress. Screenwriters get to hear from everyone, the director, the producer, the actors, the studio suits, ad infinum. Guess which writer has the most power?

Which is why I have gone back to writing novels. I would like to write a play, but that would mean having to stage it. Rather difficult here, there aren't too many theaters around and the local high school productions are a bit reserved. Don't expect to see "Oh, Calcutta" or "Hair" being done down at the local school anytime soon.

As for the screenplays. I still write them. I still send them out. Some are being rewritten as novels. I don't give up on projects. Why should I, after all the work that has gone into them.

When I wrote "Going Dutch, Trials of a Wage Slave", it was before "The Office" became a big hit in the USA. My work in different industries and my last corporate job were pretty funny situations. They were both hilarious and funny strange.

Funny strange due to the office politics and power plays by different people and groups in the companies. In time, I have displaced the anger that I felt during the game playing with humor. Reflecting on the efforts of some of the non-performers, who were just scared people trying to do what they could to keep their jobs. Right up to and including lies, rumors, innuendo and conspiracy. As seen on TV!

You have to wonder about people who go home from work to watch TV about people at work in an office. TV used to be all game shows, historical shows and sitcoms. The reality stuff is almost a farce. Which is probably one of the most accurate reflections of our current society.

I now have added 'blogger' to my repertoire. Which is almost as effective as standing on the front porch, talking into the wind. You get the words out, but you really have to wonder if anyone is listening to you. Does George Bush do this at the White House?

One of my next posts will be about another one of my efforts to 'get to Hollywood'. In this case, I was cast as a 'background extra' on a feature film. Part of it was shot in Tennessee.

The film's out now. I haven't been to see it. Don't know if it's going to make the local theater or not. They only play one movie a week. Talk about a 'one horse town'.

Which means that I can always wait until in comes out on DVD. If they still make DVDs.

There is more than one way to 'get to Hollywood'.

The main thing is that you do it your way.

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